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WA's construction industry is one of our largest employers and has been one of the hardest industries hit COVD-19, with the rate of new homes being built falling to 35-year lows.

Through building 15,000 new, low-carbon social housing homes we can create 58,500 shovel-ready jobs - tackling the recovery crisis, the housing crisis and the climate crisis all at once.

There are currently 14,000 families on WA’s social housing waiting list, waiting an average of 94 weeks for a home. Another 9,000 Western Australians are experiencing homelessness with 1000 of these sleeping rough each night. 

Housing construction is one of the most powerful job keepers and economic multipliers across the economy, and construction will play a huge role in WA’s economic recovery. Stimulus spending on social housing provides one of the best opportunities to save existing jobs in the housing sector and create new jobs over the long term but has the extra added benefit of providing much-needed housing for Western Australia’s most vulnerable.

These new dwellings should be energy-efficient buildings built to at least 7.5 stars (NatHERS rating) that generate their own renewable energy, slashing power pills for already stretched social housing tenants. 

What are we proposing?

Clean State is advocating for a Low Carbon Social Housing Construction stimulus package that:

  1. Delivers 15,000 new social housing dwellings built to 7.5-star (NatHERS rating) and the ‘Improved Liveability’ accessibility standard within three years.
  2. Provides each home with 3kw rooftop solar systems (and battery systems to multi-unit dwellings)
  3. Leverages support for a local low-emission building materials sector using sustainable building products
  4. Uses government-owned land and prioritises sites along future transit routes as two opportunities to catalyse urban regeneration and affordable living in these sites.

What are the benefits?

In addition to the incredible social benefits having a safe, secure and affordable place to live will have on people experiencing homelessness, our buildings package will have a huge economic impact. The ABS has reported that housing construction is one of the best forms of stimulus, generating $3 of economic activity for every $1 invested. 

Building new and efficient housing will have the added benefit of saving over 84,000 tones of carbon pollution every year.

How many jobs will this create?

This construction program would create 58,500 total full-time equivalent construction jobs, and 1,160 jobs in installing rooftop solar. In addition, the program would create jobs for office staff, admin, as well as additional staff for the Department of Communities who would be overseeing the program and measuring outcomes.

But what would it cost?

Building houses is expensive but is also an incredible investment. Once the homes are built, the WA Government (or housing providers) own the assets which generally increase in value over time. Tenants in social housing also provide rental income, which contributes additional money to offset the costs of construction (at around $78m per year).

There are also new innovative models of financing social housing construction - including social impact bonds, blended finance models and aggregating investment from institutional investors (like banks or superannuation funds). Our package would cost $4.7 billion over three years, using an average of between $240,000 - $388,000 per dwelling.

Acknowledgements and Endorsements

Our buildings package is endorsed by the Australian Insulation Foundation, Insulation Australasia, and Kingspan Insulation. Clean State is grateful to Make Renting Fair, WACOSS, the Energy Efficiency Council, ASBEC, Shelter WA, Access Housing and Renew who were consulted in the development of this package.

Jobs and benefits

  • A total of 59,660 jobs including 58,500 total FTE jobs in construction, and 1160 in installing rooftop solar.
  • The ABS has reported that every $1 of residential construction generates an additional $3 activity across the broader economy. This package would generate $4.7 billion in economic activity each year.

  • Energy-efficient, solar powered homes reduce energy bills for occupants by $500-$800 per year. This proposal would deliver an annual saving of $7.5 million which would be spent in local economies instead.

  • Providing safe, secure housing to people experiencing homelessness also has significant benefits for our health system. A WA study found demand on health services significantly reduced following entry to a public housing tenancy, estimating direct health care savings of $4,846 per person per year.

Jonathan Shapiera

Meet Jonathan Shapiera who has experienced homelessness. Right now 9000 Western Australians are experiencing homelessness with 1000 people sleeping rough each night.

“I know what it’s like in regards to not having housing, especially when it’s weather like this, and it’s absolutely pouring down with rain and you’re stuck doing absolutely nothing. Building soical housing saves thousands of lives.”

Do you have a personal story or big idea to share?

What would it cost?

  • This program would require an investment by government of $4.7 billion over three years, using an average of between $240,000 - $388,000 per dwelling. Providing rooftop solar to these dwellings would cost around $45 million.
  • Rental income from tenants of $200/fortnight on average would contribute $78m per year to offset this cost.
  • There are many ways to fund the delivery of social housing, including blended finance models with the community housing and private sector, aggregating investment from institutional investors, and issuing affordable housing bonds. The Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) also provides tailored-long term finance for market-leading energy-efficient community housing and retrofits.

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